When I first started toying with the idea of getting a NAS for our home, I didn’t realise how much a part of our daily life it would eventually become. Let me take you back to where it all began…
My wife and I have separate laptops and we often need to access common files such as photos, videos, scanned bills, receipts. Storing copies on our separate laptops very quickly became a chore and using an external USB drive was the only real option. But this meant we couldn’t access information wirelessly – yes i tried plugging in the USB disk into the router’s USB port and found it very slow. I was also worried about the safety of the data in case the USB disk failed. All our precious photos and irreplaceable digital documents were in there!
What about Dropbox you ask? After all the cloud hacking that happened recently, I was clear that I didn’t want to trust my data to somebody else and neither did I want to pay a monthly fee!
The hunt for the solution
So I started researching storage options that I could access from across my home network. Before long I had learnt about Network Attached Storage (NAS) options from the likes of Synology, QNAP, Netgear and Asus. It sounded perfect and with redundant storage options such as RAID, I didn’t have to worry about the safety of my data either. One option I quickly eliminated was building my own PC-based NAS because I wanted an ultra low power device that I didn’t have to spend any time building or maintaining.
At about the same time, I had acquired a few security cameras and was thinking of which NVR to buy. So I was absolutely delighted when I learnt most modern NAS could perform the same job as an NVR!
Doing the research led me to settle on the QNAP TS-231+ which was an absolutely brilliant bit of kit and I enjoyed it immensely. It became the central hub of my network serving up photos, videos, to every screen, automatically backing up files from mobile phones and laptops, recording my surveillance cameras and a whole lot more!
Why a new NAS then?
I bought the TS-231+ from Amazon nearly 2 years ago and everything was going well until a month ago when the NAS started restarting on its own. Some basic troubleshooting didn’t go very far so a quick call to Amazon was placed. They referred me to QNAP as the product was still under the 2 year manufacturer warranty. Yes all the QNAP NAS models come with a 2 year warranty which can be extended even further on selected models.
QNAP offered two options – an RMA with me paying for the postage to their nearest depot or a full refund from the seller (Amazon). Naturally I went for the full refund. Now I had just finished my handy 2017 guide to the best DIY NAS NVR, so putting my money where the mouth is, I bought the QNAP TS-253A.
You know what the greatest realisation was for me through this whole episode? How incredibly inconvenient it was to not have a NAS and have to go back to sharing a USB drive between me and my wife!
The QNAP TS-253A has arrived
Yesterday, the QNAP TS-253A arrived! I was surprised to see a package box much smaller than the TS-231+ but the actual NAS was pretty much the same size as the old NAS. Here are the main hardware features of the QNAP TS-253A NAS:
- 14 nm Intel® Celeron® N3150/N3160 1.6 GHz quad-core processor
- 8th generation Intel HD Graphics
- TS-253A-4G model RAM: 4GB (2 x 2GB SODIMM DDR3L-1600)
- Hot-swappable 3.5″ or 2.5″ SATA 6Gb/s, SATA 3Gb/s hard drive or SSD
- 2 x Gigabit RJ-45 Ethernet port
- 4 x USB 3.0 port (Front:1, Rear:3)
- Support USB printer, pen drive, and USB UPS etc.
- 2 x HDMI, up to 4K 2160P 30Hz Ultra HD support
- 2 x 6.3mm microphone jacks (dynamic microphones only)
- Line Out Jack (for amplifier or headphone amplifier)
- IR Receiver
- Kensington security slot, console port (system maintenance)
- 150(H) x 102(W) x 216(D) mm
- 5.91(H) x 4.02(W) x 8.5(D) inch
- System sleep mode power consumption: 1.18W
- HDD standby power consumption: 8.38W
- In operation power consumption: 14.43W
Whew, that’s a pretty impressive list of hardware features don’t you think? It is actually a fully capable computer that has 4k HDMI capability as well!
On the software front, the NAS runs QNAP’s linux-based OS called QTS. You also get a generous 4 IP camera licenses free with the NAS, which is one of the main reasons I recommended it in my 2017 NAS round-up.
I popped in my existing WD RED 3TB hard drives but the NAS didn’t like them so I went through the process of setting it up as if I had two brand new unused hard drives. Setup was smooth and I then plugged in my backup USB drive to restore my last backup. I was so glad that I had invested in the WD MyBook Studio to be my designated secondary backup drive! It is precisely for these type of situations that secondary backup is recommended! The NAS is currently mirroring my main hard drive to the second one. If you have ever done this, you know it can take quite a while.
I will write an exhaustive hands-on review soon but so far I am loving the QNAP TS-253A!
EDIT: Here’s the long overdue hands-on review! The upshot of my procrastination is that the review takes into account over 9 months of actual daily use.